The concept of a food label is simple. Labels identify products, provide customers with necessary information and enable companies to receive and ship products worldwide. Yet growing customer demands, changing labeling regulations and an increasingly competitive global marketplace continue to have food and beverage manufacturers scrambling to maintain some semblance of simplicity in an increasingly complicated labeling environment. Furthermore, the stakes are high for managing labels. Food recalls continue to make headlines, and a growing number of consumers rely on identified allergens to be properly labeled so they can select food and beverages that are safe to consume.
Now, food and beverage manufacturers of all sizes are re-thinking how they manage their labeling environments to navigate this increasingly complicated labeling landscape. For these manufacturers, doing so often begins with a closer look at how labeling is viewed throughout their enterprise. When labeling is treated as a discrete operation within the food and beverage manufacturing process, the labeling environment often relies too heavily on manual processes and is prone to human error. By contrast, when labeling is viewed as an integrated component of the manufacturing process, food and beverage manufacturers greatly improve labeling accuracy, efficiency and agility.
So what does labeling look like as integrated component of the manufacturing process? Enter enterprise label management (ELM), a centralized approach to labeling that leverages existing business systems, eliminates manual process, and reduces IT overheard and the room for human error. It integrates label design, approval, security and print automation and holds the key to improving labeling speed, accuracy and agility.
ELM centralizes label management and integrates labeling with other business or ERP systems. It consists of these four primary label management components:
- The ability to create and print barcode labels used for shipping, inventory, products and more.
- Label approval, traceability, security, storage and version control for all labels created and printed.
- Print automation to remove human interaction from the printing process.
- A configurable browser printing interface for seamless label printing locally and around the globe.
Food and beverage manufacturers of all sizes can benefit from ELM. Typically, companies look to ELM when they are looking to reduce waste, mitigate risk or reduce disparate system management. ELM is also a natural fit within lean manufacturing initiatives because its integrated approach allows organizations to leverage existing business systems and often reduces IT overhead. And because ELM incorporates label approval, traceability, security and version control, food and beverage manufacturers that leverage it are better equipped to respond to and execute a food recall should that situation arise.
From an efficiency standpoint, food and beverage manufacturers realize many benefits from ELM implementations. ELM eliminates manual approval processes that often result in production delays. It also reduces manual, error-prone processes. The use of label templates allows food manufacturers to quickly adjust labels, making it easier to respond to changing label requirements such as the FDA’s new Nutrition Facts requirements or those items required by FSMA.
With ELM, the use of a configurable browser printing interface allows food and beverage manufacturers to manage labels at one location while enabling users to print labels at locations around the globe. This greatly improves a manufacturer’s ability to manage labels across its network of production facilities and distribution centers, and provides a labeling environment that can easily adjust as the company grows.
ELM can also serve as a competitive advantage for food and beverage manufacturers. For one leading consumer goods manufacturer, an ELM solution provided a way to become more competitive in the marketplace. The manufacturer was facing challenges, as its former labeling process relied too heavily on manual processes. Specifically, its manual data entry was time-consuming and error-prone. Its labeling environment was also unable to accommodate label changes without costly, custom development time. Labeling errors meant the company was at risk of losing customers and market share, and the inability to quickly accommodate label changes negatively impacted its ability to comply with changing customer requirements.
With ELM, the manufacturer realized a 75% reduction in label development time, resulting in an equal decrease in labor costs. In addition, access to label templates gave them complete flexibility to quickly respond to business and customer requirements. And because its label creation was now automated and integrated with its existing SAP system as part of the ELM implementation, the company was able to increase labeling efficiency while reducing errors.
For food and beverage manufacturers, the benefits of ELM are too compelling to ignore. Here are four signs your company may benefit from ELM:
- Your barcode label printing is manual and disjointed, with many clicks.
- Your label templates are decentralized and difficult to manage.
- You have manual label approval workflows and can’t apply securities and controls for design vs. print users.
- You have many local print installations.
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these signs, ELM warrants a closer look. ELM implementations can run smoothly when you partner with an experienced barcode labeling solutions provider, and your company will be better positioned to navigate what has become a very complicated food and beverage labeling environment.